ATLANTA -- Vanderbilt stars John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor showed again on Friday night why the Commodores can be a dangerous team in March, as the pair combined to score 49 points in an 87-81 victory over Mississippi State in the SEC tourney semifinals at the Georgia Dome.
The Commodores advanced to play SEC regular-season champion Florida in Saturday’s semifinals.
Turning point: With the score tied at 76 with about two minutes to play, the Bulldogs did the unimaginable. The Bulldogs twice fouled Jenkins on 3-point attempts -- and he even made the second one. Jenkins, one of the best foul shooters in the country at better than 88 percent, made three foul shots for a 79-76 lead with 2:03 left. After Renardo Sidney's reverse layup cut Vandy’s lead to 79-78, the Bulldogs fouled Jenkins again. His 3-pointer was good and he made a foul shot to complete the four-point play for an 83-78 lead.
Key players: Jenkins and Taylor were fantastic, especially down the stretch. Jenkins scored 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including 5-for-9 on 3-pointers. Taylor, who has been up and down all season, scored 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting.
Key stat: 18: 20-point games by Jenkins this season, tops in the SEC.
Miscellaneous: Sidney, an oft-troubled sophomore from Jackson, Miss., enjoyed one of his best college games, scoring 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting with seven rebounds. He scored 20 points after halftime and made big basket after big basket down the stretch.
What’s next: The Commodores advanced to play SEC regular-season champion Florida in Saturday’s semifinals. The Commodores lost two games to the Gators during the regular season, losing 65-61 in overtime in Gainesville, Fla., on Feb. 1 and 86-76 in Nashville on March 5. Mississippi State finished the season with 17-14 record and might possibly earn an NIT invitation. Coach Rick Stansbury’s job might be in jeopardy after a trouble-filled season.